Avalanche Fans Want a Winter Classic in Denver

Chris Botta over at FanHouse talks a little about the dangers and fears that the NHL face when staging an outdoor event.  If you don’t live in the Denver area you might think it’s too warm here to host the Winter Classic.  Even some people that live here don’t think that it would be a wise endeavor.

But let’s look at a picture I took in my neighborhood today. 

Isn’t it sunny and snowy?!?!  The temperature was about 37 degrees at “game time”.  Perfect!  Colorado is one of the sunniest places in the US and the chance of good weather for sitting outdoors for a few hours is excellent!  Denver could do a night game if there is concern about Colorado’s famously ever-present sunshine.

Let’s also look at some weather data for Denver (from Yahoo!)

Month Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Precip Rec. High Rec. Low
December 48.0 °F 17.0 °F 0.86 in 75.0 °F(12/02/1998) -24.0 °F (12/22/1990)
January 47.0 °F 16.0 °F 0.63 in 78.0 °F(01/26/1982) -21.0 °F (01/18/1984)

Now Boston

December 42.0 °F 28.0 °F 3.73 in 76.0 °F(12/07/1998) -17.0 °F (12/29/1933)
January 36.0 °F 22.0 °F 3.92 in 72.0 °F(01/26/1950) -30.0 °F (01/25/1946)

…and Chicago

December 37.0 °F 24.0 °F 2.63 in 69.0 °F(12/03/1982) -20.0 °F (12/24/1983)
January 32.0 °F 18.0 °F 2.17 in 67.0 °F(01/25/1950) -24.0 °F (01/20/1985)

Denver has slightly higher average highs during the day but notice that Denver’s average low is actually lower than the previous host’s temperatures.  But the big advantage Denver has is the lack of precipitation.   Everyone has spent all week babbling about the possibility of rain and postponing the game in Boston.  New Year’s Eve produced significant amounts of snow, enough that crews were hustling to keep the surface clear for practice.

The other hot topic in Denver is where to host the Classic.  Since ballparks seem to be the popular choice recently, Coors Field certainly seems the likely choice.  It is a beautiful ballpark and despite my complaints about the fans being far from the rink, it may be the best choice. 

But football stadiums entered the discussion as well:  Invesco field as well as Folsom Field, home of the CU Buffs were suggested.  I suspect the NHL likes the ballpark setting for one very obvious, strategic reason.  Capacity.  Football stadiums hold more people and with the high demand so far there is little doubt that larger venues would have sold out. 

But there are two very important things to keep in mind here. 

1)      The NHL is petrified of this event falling on its face.  Putting it in the huge venues invites a major embarrassment if it doesn’t sell out.

2)      While the NHL may not be particularly concerned about the above scenario occurring in the near future, they are using the limited seating capacity to their advantage to maintain the current level of interest in the event.  It’s kind of like when you used to have to wait six months to buy a Harley, it just made them all the more desirable.

Adrian Dater of the Denver Post brings up a fun idea about playing on Grand Lake. While hosting the Winter Classic on an actual lake or in a ski resort town sounds nifty-neat-o, it isn’t really very practical when you consider that the current event set-up isn’t exactly routine.  So is this game in a rink built on the lake or really on the lake ice and are you going to surface the lake ice or just put guys careers on the line for the sake of a real “pond hockey” game?

No, Denver should get a Winter Classic and it’s going to have to be at Coors field. 

So who should the Avs play?  Well the Red Wings seem to be the leader in the club house around here. And maybe the Red Wings should be the opponent, but wouldn’t it be fun to see the Avs play an old Nordiques division rival like the Canadiens? 

Back when the Nordiques were good, they often met the Habs in the playoffs.  The Avs could ditch the current 3rd jersey they are sporting for one that is much better looking and harkens back to the days of Quebec.  Though Bettman may not want to tempt his fate too much with such a game, he has already stirred to pot enough with his empty talk of a team returning to Quebec City.

But the NHL would probably prefer a team that hasn’t already made a WC appearance.   All the old Adams division teams and the Wings have already been in the Classic.

So unfortunately I think those scenarios are out. 

So how about the battle of the relocated teams, the Avs and the Devils?  There’s some real old rivalry there from the Cup games and for the “classic” twist the Avs could wear Nordique jerseys and the Devils could wear Colorado Rockies jerseys.

Wouldn’t THAT be confusing?  But the NHL likes to play with that whole vintage/throw-back stuff, so…I think it’s a go.  You’re welcome commish!

Let me just wrap this up with another brilliant idea for you, Mr. Bettman.  While Jason Cohen writes that the Winter Classic is pretty cool, but not enough for him to skip bowl games, I am very happy that the NHL has taken over this block of time on New Year’s Day.  I’m not a college football fan and I find the WC a great event on a day when I have zero interest in the college events.  The NHL needs to take a chance on another football dominated day.  Thanksgiving Day.

Yes, the NFL owns Thanksgiving but the NHL could still make some ground facing off the previous years’ Stanley Cup teams.  A lot of people thought the NHL was nuts to play a game on New Year’s Day but look at where we are today.  The NHL should take a shot at Thanksgiving too.  Frankly, I love watching the NFL on Turkey Day but there are years when I couldn’t care less about Detroit or Dallas, regardless of who they play.  A hockey game in the mix would be great and the NHL could take this day to match up the previous seasons Stanley Cup contenders.  No outdoors game or anything like that, but the angle would be a single game re-match.

Don’t be afraid to keep expanding your horizons NHL.  We all (usually) benefit when you institute new ideas that work well, are popular and well executed.

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About the Author: I'm an irascible rec-hockey player, your typical ‘lunch pail’ player. A Colorado native, I was raised on Broncos football, with occasional minor league and Colorado (hockey) Rockies games thrown in. With the arrival of the Colorado Avalanche and my crazy idea to learn to ice skate (and eventually play hockey) at the age of 33, I fell in love with hockey, finally. You can find me here: Real Denver Sports and here: Twitter

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